Wedding season. It’s an exciting time, fraught with important decisions: Which dress to wear? Who to include in the wedding party? Lilies or daisies? What to do about that drunk uncle? Where to put all the new crates and barrels?
Needless to say, it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a wedding, but a wedding is very different from a marriage. And if couples get too deep into wedding season without focusing on the right questions, they may have a wonderful ceremony that (sadly) ends up being the highlight of the marriage.
During wedding season, I see a lot of couples for pre-marital counseling. They want to make sure that they have all their ducks in a row before they tie the knot. I always tell them this truth: Sometimes the most successful pre-marital counseling results in the couple breaking up.
In my experience, most couples who come in for help during the first three years of marriage should never have gotten married in the first place. That’s not always true, of course. Some couples are super mature and have a proactive approach to maintaining a healthy relationship. I actually encourage all of my pre-marital clients to commit to a full year of maintenance therapy in order to help mitigate the transition.
But the couples who are in trouble all have one thing in common: They don’t have thoughtful answers to simple questions. If you’re currently caught up in the wedding hype (or if you know someone who is), I encourage you to consider these three questions before the wedding.
01. Why do I want to spend my life with this person?
There’s a relatively common cliche about marrying your best friend. This is a wise premise that has been explored by everyone from John Gottman to Jason Mraz to Verily. But it’s not enough to believe that someone is your best friend. You need to know why they are your best friend. What do you know about how he became who he is today? How—like exactlyhow—do you know you can trust him? What qualities does he have that you want for your kids? What do you love about his family? What do you hate? Are you sure that your appreciation extends beyond his physical appearance (which will change) or his paycheck (which will change) or the fact that you both hate olives (which will change). What do you know about what is constant for your partner? More importantly what do you know about their hopes, fears, dreams, anxieties, etc.? You need to do the hard, intentional work of exploring those things. You need to know their whole story and why you want to become a part of it. … >>READ MORE